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Cortical Labs is attempting to harness the power of human brain cells to make computer chips far more powerful and efficient. (Photos courtesy of Cortical Labs) 
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Brains on a chip: Why startups are combining cells and silicon

Australia's Cortical Labs is working on 'holy grail' of AI: general intelligence

SANDY ONG, Contributing writer | Australia

SINGAPORE -- Think of a computer chip and the materials that spring to mind will likely be silicon, copper and plastic. An ambitious startup from Australia is now throwing a novel ingredient into the mix: human brain cells.

Cortical Labs, a Melbourne-based company backed by one of the country's largest venture capital investors, Blackbird Ventures, recently published a paper describing their new chip. When connected to a computer, the cells on the chip -- dubbed DishBrain -- learned to play the classic arcade game Pong. Even better, the neurons improved their performance after receiving feedback on their play.

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